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Milwaukee Bucks 2015-16 Preview

With Greg Monroe in the fold in addition to a healthy Jabari Parker, the young and scrappy Bucks could make some noise in 2016.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

2014-15 IN REVIEW
41-41
3rd in Central Division
6th in Eastern Conference
Lost to CHI (4-2) in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

SUMMER OF 2015

Key Additions - Greg Monroe, Greivis Vasquez, Rashad Vaughn
Key Losses - Ersan Ilyasova, Jared Dudley, Zaza Pachulia

The Bucks improved their talent level this summer, and they finally added a quality big man to carry the load in the middle. Milwaukee signed free agent Greg Monroe to a three-year, $50 million deal, giving head coach Jason Kidd a post much-needed presence to balance his arsenal of offensive weaponry.

Khris Middleton became a very rich man as well, and his new contract extension will earn him $70 million over the course of the next five years. Middleton has come into his own as a quality all-around ballplayer that consistently brings a lot to the table on both ends of the floor. Middleton put up 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists after the All-Star break last season, shooting 40% from beyond the arc for the year.

With the 17th pick in the draft, Milwaukee grabbed UNLV's Rashad Vaughn, who could put together a nice career as a key offensive threat. He's got good size on the wing at 6'5" and spreads the floor as a natural scorer who can make shots in a variety of ways. He can create his own space, knocks down the three, can make shots on the move and has a terrific pull-up game. Vaughn has some competition for minutes on the wing, but the Bucks got great value at number 17.

Milwaukee also acquired veteran guard Greivis Vasquez in a draft night trade with Toronto, where they sent the 46th overall pick and a future protected first round pick to the Raptors. Between Michael Carter-Williams and Vasquez, Milwaukee has some serious size at the one-spot and coach Kidd will have a lot of opportunities to take advantage of mismatches with that benefit.

Ersan Ilyasova was dealt to Detroit for Caron Butler and Shawne Williams, who were both waived by Milwaukee.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
C
- Greg Monroe / Miles Plumlee
PF - Jabari Parker / John Henson / Chris Copeland
SF - Giannis Antetokounmpo / Rashad Vaughn / Damien Inglis
SG - Khris Middleton / O.J. Mayo / Jerryd Bayless
PG - Michael Cater-Williams / Grievis Vasquez / Tyler Ennis

X-FACTOR - Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker only played 25 games in his rookie year before tearing his ACL in December, but he's back and the Bucks have a lot to be excited about. Parker makes Milwaukee's offense much more dangerous and he is the guy on the roster that has the ability to develop into a go-to scorer.

If Parker stays healthy and starts to prove the kind of player he can be, the Bucks will compete at a higher level. When you think about the frontcourt combination of Antetokounmpo, Monroe and Parker, you've got to be excited.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2015-16
The Bucks are going to have a chance to make a little noise in the east this season. Last year's core is, for the most part, intact and now they've added another year of experience plus a threat like Greg Monroe. Add the return of Jabari Parker to that mix, the Bucks could give a lot of different teams some trouble in a seven-game series.

PROJECTED 2015-16 STANDINGS
3rd in Central Division
6th in Eastern Conference

Milwaukee Bucks 2015-16 Preview - Brew Hoop - SBNation.com

Having won 50 games and advanced past the first round just once (!) in the last 25 years, the Bucks are suddenly fashionable again and dealing with a rather new and unexpected phenomenon: expectations. After suffering through a franchise-worst 15-win season two years ago, the last 16 months saw the Bucks land new owners, a new head coach, new jerseys, funding for a new arena, and a brand new mindset that paid immediate dividends last season. Moreover, their 26-win improvement was made all the more remarkable given the loss of Parker to a knee injury and Larry Sanders to greener non-basketball-playing pastures in December. Even if you thought the Bucks would be dramatically better last season, you never thought it would happen the way it did.

The addition of Monroe and return of Parker thus has many fans dreaming of a leap into the East's top-four this season, and if everything hits right that might be feasible. Still, the league's annals are littered with teams young and old that struggled to make the leap from good to great, and fundamentally the Bucks are still a very young team that's relying on depth more than outright star power. So my guess is that the Bucks' real ascension is still a season away, with this season more about laying the groundwork for greatness than actually reaching it with any consistency.